I have some great site updates to share with you. As you will notice in the sidebar, there are two new covers for the published novels. I think they look much better.
If you navigate through the buttons on the menu bar, you’ll see some new entries. There is a Media Kit for each published book, including author bio, author interview, reviews, and more.
Now, for the piece that I am most pleased with. With each book there is a Guide for Parents.
As the Hidden History novels are intended for ages 10 and up, I felt it was important to provide a guide for the parents so that they are aware of what is in the novel.
The Kalidah is the most ferocious and feared predator in the Land of Oz. We first read about Kalidahs in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel. The Kalidah has the head of a tiger, the front paws and body of a bear, and the rear legs of a tiger. But what would a Kalidah look like in real life? How would the features of these two fearsome predators look? (more…)
This question drives my writing and my explorations into character.
I am flawed. I struggle. I move forward a little bit, and then I fall. I get tired. It’s hard to get up and continue. What do I need to go on? Pretty much, I just need a hero to look to. (more…)
A hero is someone that inspires hope. A hero stands in contrast to a villain, who inspires hopelessness. Villains are explored in a previous post.
Based on this simple definition, the hero type can be broken down into several categories. This post contains short videos that I believe demonstrate the aspects of heroism that I look for in my characters.
There are many real-life examples of heroes. This post is limited to fictional heroes and heroic qualities that I find inspiring.
These everyday heroes may not change the world, but they can change your world.
Consider Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie (1978). (more…)
A good villain is the embodiment of that which makes you feel helpless.
With that in mind, three types of villains emerge:
Inhuman forces of nature
Shadows and hordes
Inhuman forces of nature that run rampant are always scary. A few examples include: (more…)
Can you tell a story in six words? This super-short storytelling has a history dating back to Ernest Hemmingway when he shared the following with a friend:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
iO9 has a couple of super-short science fiction writing contests here, and here. This got me thinking about how to tell a story in six words. You see it many times in newspaper and magazine headlines. The story needs to pull you in so that you buy their product – their product being both a magazine and a message. If you buy their message, you will most likely come back. You become their audience.
So how do you build an audience in six words? You find common beliefs that allow you to use shorthand to tell your story. You find double-meanings in words that give you more mileage. And you find a way to look at events or attitudes that allow people to think they know what is happening, and then surprise them.
The power of each word is multiplied when you can only use six of them. Here are three of my favorites from my six-word sci-fi brainstorming session:
- Substitute time traveler wanted. Provide references.
- Successfully removed cancerous microchip. Now lonely.
- Vegetable uprising. Time travel. Primordial soup.
I thought even further – could this work for Oz stories?
Given only the limit of six words to tell an Oz story, can you do it? Can you rely on your audience’s understanding of Oz to share an entire story in scarcely a handful of words? I’m going to give it a try.
- Silver slippers returned to the dust.
- Giant robot destroys tribe. Survivor cowardly.
- Powder of life activates Tiktok’s heart.
- Teenage Glinda battles two Wicked Witches.
- Lonely Wizard dreams monsters for Witch.
- Yellow Brick Road guided hopeful slaves.
- Young Locasta hides from apprenticeship. Found.
Some of these may be actual story ideas for The Hidden History of Oz series. Time will tell. Distilling the essence of a story down to six words is quite an interesting exercise.
Why don’t you give it a try? In the comments below, leave your six-word Oz story.
While reviewing some of my past creative work today, I came across a game design document I wrote in 2009.
I was still a student, and the contest was a limited-time entry only. With just a few days before the deadline, I brainstormed what I thought would be a fascinating game and digital world. A large part of this document relies on technology that isn’t quite there yet. (Think back to how much less-there the technology was four years ago!)
In designing Paper Planes, a Massive Online Community of digital origami, I combined three things: digital technology just beyond our reach, the infinite creativity of the human mind, and origami, which fascinated me as a child. Consider the artistic landscape – if there were no limitations to digital folding or paper craftsmanship, what could you create? (more…)
Few villains are as iconic as Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939). Is it the green skin, the archetypal witch’s nose, or the wide-brimmed black hat that makes her so memorable? Maybe her screeching voice is what sticks in your memory. The Wicked Witch of the West has had multiple incarnations in the 100+ years since L. Frank Baum first published his novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Many additional authors have written about this witch. We will explore the four primary versions of the Wicked Witch of the West. These versions are:
- The Wicked Witch of the West, from The Wizard of Oz (film, MGM, 1939).
- Elphaba, from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West.
Note: This is the original version of the character made famous in the Broadway musical, Wicked.
- The Wicked Witch of the West, from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Ondri-baba, from Tarl Telford’s Hidden History of Oz books.
What makes each of these versions different? Who is the Wicked Witch of the West, anyway? (more…)
I have been brainstorming Oz stories for about five years now. This includes visual brainstorms and concept art for the eventual graphic novels of some Hidden History of Oz stories. To give an idea of some of the character development over the last two years, I thought I would start with the hero – Glinda.
Glinda is the teenage daughter of the most powerful sorceress in Oz. Through a series of tantrum-inspired events, Glinda becomes an orphan on the run from the Wicked Witches. (See The Witch Queens novel for full details.)
These are the first sketches in the concept art category. There will doubtless be many more. For more of my artwork, you can visit my deviantart gallery. I am beginning to share some of my artwork again.
For reference purposes, here is a public domain illustration of Glinda from one of Baum’s books, Glinda of Oz. This is Glinda approximately 60 years after HH1: The Witch Queens. She learned the secret to aging well. You’ll just have to read the book and find out what it is.
Do you want to see more concept art for The Hidden History of Oz characters and places? Let me know in the comments below.
With the announcement of a fourth Oz-inspired TV series, there are a lot of people on the interwebs that are justifiably annoyed. Why take a classic tale and re-spin it again and again? Simple answer – it’s the 75th Anniversary of the MGM Wizard of Oz movie (1939) and Warner Bros. owns the rights.
With all of these versions of Oz done wrong, where are the versions of Oz done right? Where is the land that Baum built? (more…)
Liberty is freedom to act, to choose your own destiny, to make decisions based on what you determine is right. Liberty is the opposite of tyranny. Liberty frees a man to become what he was born to become. Tyranny takes a man and binds him to what an all-powerful ruler determines that he should become. For Oscar, and for those who truly want to determine their own destiny, the choice is clear. (more…)
The Hidden History of Oz, Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer is complete. It will very shortly be available for sale on Amazon. In the meantime, here is a brief teaser to get your appetite whetted for the continuing adventures of Glinda, Oscar, and the whole Hidden History of Oz cast. (more…)
I assure you, dear reader, that such a thing can be, but not in the way that you might expect. It requires dark magic, a witch’s blood, and a mechanical construct powered by the magic of the brick roads. Intrigued? (more…)
The Hidden History of Oz, Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer is nearing completion. It is in the proofreading phase right now. I am very excited to share it with you. Every day brings the manuscript closer and closer to your hands. The story is just about ready to take off and make some magic.
Here is a teaser for the cover in-progress:
I anticipate that it will be available for purchase in September on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle versions. Other digital formats will soon follow. In the meantime, if you haven’t picked up a copy of The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens, now would be a great time to dive into the mysterious history of Glinda and Oscar Diggs. You can find the book on both Amazon, and Smashwords.
On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, I received some fine compliments on the cover to The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens. I was a guest on the second hour of Whispers in the Dark (download the podcast, it’s free). Right at the end, several people commented what a great cover the book has. They were talking, I wanted to say thanks, because it is my work, after all, but didn’t get a chance before the live feed ended.
So here is my chance. The cover is good because I put a lot of work into it. Here you’ll get a glimpse inside my thought process as I planned out the cover.
This is the first of many behind-the-scenes posts where I detail my thoughts and process as I built this book from the ground up. Everything, from the front cover image, to the words on the page, to the imprint logo on the spine, was designed by Tarl Telford, me. It was a lot of fun, and I’m proud of the finished product.
Let me pull back the curtain so you can see some of my process…
Do you like behind the scenes commentary, concept art, and witty anecdotes from your favorite stories? I do. My shelves are lined with concept art books from movies – from Star Wars, to Pixar’s The Incredibles, to The Dark Crystal. My favorite part of the movies and the stories is all of the imagination that goes in to making it. When the sketches are rough, the final product can be anything – at that moment, the rough sketch is completely powered by imagination.
It is for this purpose that I am introducing a new category to this blog: The Man Behind the Curtain. Of course you understand the reference. The Wizard was controlling the various disguises from behind the curtain. He was revealed as a humbug in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel.
Humbug is not my aspiration, rather, I want you to see what I see. Ideas come, sketches are scribbled, and drafts are written. Only at the end does it look inevitable. Of course it was meant to be that way.
So when you see the category: The Man Behind the Curtain, just know that it is a behind the scenes glimpse of my creative process.
What are some of your favorite movies or books to glimpse behind the curtain?